Full contact fighting in medieval armor

Originally published at: Full contact fighting in medieval armor | Boing Boing


There is also a fairly extensive group of folks who do sport full contact jousting. They use training lances which shatter on impact, but they are solid wood and I’m sure no joke to get hit with. Plus, falling off a horse with 100lbs of steel strapped to your body can’t be awesome. Anyways, it’s fascinating and was briefly sensationalized in the 2012 reality show Full Metal Jousting. As with all subculture-based reality TV, the manufactured drama was tiresome, but the underlying activity was neat to watch.


“Dude, I have a lot of tables.”

Probs less accurate than the Society for Creative Anachronism, but I like remaining vertical-ish. :grimacing:


SCA fighters are pretty serious about real fighting without actually injuring each other. There’s also no grappling or throws in SCA, and no direct blows (punches, knees), which is obviously less realistic but also less dangerous. These live steel people get hurt all the time.


I’s important to balance out fighting one-on-one with fighting gangs to keep your skills sharp.


Anyone else wish this guy’s thumb had chainmail or something more protective on?


There are also people who study Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) including armored combat, from translations of medieval manuscripts written by master fencing instructors of the time. Less emphasis on looking medieval, more emphasis on learning the historical fighting techniques. I mostly practice longsword, no armor. And definitely no going “full contact” on my friends, though I do end up bleeding about once a year.


I’m appalled. Especially when noticing that there is NOTHING above those fence slats between the guys swinging battle axes and the mesmerized crowd a few feet away. Did you not just see the axe knocked out of the hands of each of them? Oh they’ll just catch it and toss it back I suppose.

It made me think back to an exhibition put on by Eddie Feigner, of ‘The King & His Court’ fast-pitch softball fame. It was held at a high school football field. He’s warming up, 70+mph pitches. People are filing in and choosing to sit in the front row of bleachers, 15 ft directly behind the catcher, with absolutely no backstop. Before any batter stepped in, he had to force people to move, explaining that foul tips would murder them.


I have to wonder if they have something figured out RE: blunt trauma; or if they are just using the football approach of denying that it’s a problem.

Suitable protective equipment can do a lot to prevent cuts and stab wounds; but, anything short of tactical stay-puft marshmallow man gear is really running up against the limits of how much acceleration and deceleration one can safely provide with only short distances to work with when it comes to blunt trauma; especially the super fun traumatic brain injury kind.


Tell me how the grass tastes, little man.


Tbf so did people at the time. Jousting was always an entertainment and a sport, not something that was supposed to kill your opponent.


The History Channel has a show for this. It’s called Knight Fight and I found it to be pretty great. It’s free of most of the ego tropes one would expect and the atmosphere is surprisingly supportive.

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I used to want to armor up and beat the crap out of people with rattan sticks in the SCA. But I am a bit too fragile for that now. Still would like to get more swords and maybe a breast plate, at the least.

Haha, yes, understood. I guess I was just contrasting it with the actual heavy calvary weapons from which the tournament sport was derived. :smiley:


:rofl::rofl::rofl: that was hilarious

I have several friends in the SCA who regularly do events, and they introduced me to this- but it’s not part of the SCA- it’s a separate official group from what they told me.

The weapons have blunted edges- no actual cutting, more blunt force trauma essentially.

This needs a “metal” tag as well. Because it’s metal af.

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There’s also the closely related arts of battlefield / single-combat mounted polearm, which had related techniques to jousting and also used a weapon called the lance, but in this case was a completely different tool purpose-built for combat – basically a spear specifically designed for mounted use. I think it’s Fiore who (in a single combat setting) suggests deliberately dismounting if you’re better at fencing than riding, because the dominant skill for horseback combat is horsemanship as opposed to fencing.

[EDIT EDIT: never mind previous edit, read the thread wrong. Giving similar background to what @veronicaconnor was mentioning]

There are people who do historical martial arts in polearms (including mounted polearms) but it’s much harder to do safely than with swords because even a rubber-headed polearm can easily give a major concussion if you’re not paying attention.

A lot of these plate helmets have suspensions in them rather than padding, which are much better at not transferring motion into the skull. But you’re right; I think a lot of historical reconstructionists of various stripes are going to be facing a future with CTE symptoms.

Between wanting to avoid that, hand injuries, and the epidemic of “HEMA toxicity”, I’ve stopped competing.

The way one fighter has to spread his legs wide to bend at the waist & retrieve his ax makes me think that getting old is akin to trying to move around in a full suit of armor. Luckily I didn’t spend my youth jousting, so I’m still able to bend over & touch the floor at my age.

As alarming and brutal as this seems, you have to understand that modern recreation of medieval fighting is not truly authentic unless at least one party is literally out to kill/maim/incapacitate the other.

We’re talking going-for-the-jugular, hamstringing, stab-in-the-face out and out butchery.

One can only imagine what that kind of fighting is like. This is tame, Disneyland stuff in comparison.

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